Putting Data to Good Use for Improved Operations

To address these challenges, ChemCo has focused on improving operations effectiveness in three areas: safety, cost reduction, and improving quality. Their leadership explains that safety is always their priority. Anything that helps and supports the plants to run safely is appreciated. At the same time, the company needs to reduce costs; one way to get more out of the plants without building new ones is to make sure you get more quality product from the exhausting asset. All this must be accomplished with sustainability in mind, especially with ever-increasing regulations.

In 2007, ChemCo standardized on OSIsoft's PI System to serve as the realtime infrastructure and time-series system of record for their fleet of chemical plants. As of 2016, they had more than 50 PI System servers collecting approximately 1.5 million data points from over 50 production units globally.

Using PI System data, ChemCo developed digital strategies along several tracks:

  • • Vertical integration within the company, so that key plant information is quickly delivered throughout the enterprise and SMEs can act on that data to make real-time decisions or to discover issues that impede optimized operations
  • • Business-to-business (B2B) integration with partners and customers, so that information flows quickly and efficiently
  • • Use of emerging technologies, such as AI analytics and modeling software, to mine and understand patterns in historical production data that are not easily recognized by humans or existing software applications

We will discuss several examples of using data effectively to reduce emissions and to optimize control strategies.

Reducing Emissions and Energy Consumption through Data Analysis

ChemCo uses a three-tiered energy management system. In the first tier, PI System data from all the production plants are used to perform an energy efficiency check. The results are then delivered for analysis to process experts and operators, who identify potential places to reduce energy through small modifications, large investments, or by changing how the plant runs. This provides ChemCo with a clearly prioritized project portfolio that they can then steer investment budgets with and make sure the most promising projects are done.

The second tier is an online monitoring tool for operators. It visually shows, on a minute-by-minute basis, if operators are running within specifications and how energy efficiency can be improved for the specific plant. In the third tier, energy and production data for all plants is standardized, regardless of plant type and process variations. With that standardized information, management can compare results plant by plant and primary energy use per ton of product produced. This provides management and knowledge workers with the transparency they need.

These changes aren't just improving access to information, they're affecting ChemCo's bottom line. In 2009, their program was certified as an energy management system, entitling the company to receive large tax rebates. In addition, ChemCo has reaped the following benefits:

  • • The company has increased production.
  • • Energy consumption has been reduced by 30% since 2005 and the company expects to achieve a 50% reduction by 2030.
  • • Carbon dioxide (C02) emissions have been reduced by almost 40% per ton of product produced since 2005, and the company expects to achieve a 50% reduction by 2025.
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